Advanced Bridge


Lesson 4


“4th Suit Forcing”


     Usually, any new suit bid by Responder is natural and forcing for at least one round.  There is one circumstance, where a new suit by Responder, is, however, not forcing.  When Opener opens with either 1C or 1D, Responder then bids 1S, Opener rebids 1NT, and Responder rebids 2H, such sequences are not forcing.


                      Opener            Responder     Responder’s Hand


             (a)        1C                 1S             AXXXX

                        1NT                2H             KXXX(X)


             (b)        1D                 1S             XX  

                        1NT                2H   


     In both of these examples above, Responder is showing 5-Spades and 4 or 5 Hearts, and, with less than game values, as Captain, is presenting, a final contract of either 2H or 2S as a better alternative than Opener’s 1NT.    Here, even though a new suit by Responder has been introduced, the bid of 2H in each of the above, is not forcing.    In most other examples, a new suit by Responder is forcing for one round.


     At the 1-Level, as Opener and Responder both bid “Up the Ladder”, the new suits by Responder are all natural, and are both forcing for one round (Example c). Any new suit, presented by Responder at the 1-Level, is forcing for one round.


                                           Opener            Responder     Responder’s Hand



              (c)        1C                 1D            XX

                        1H                 1S            KXXX


   When Responder bid of any new suit is presented as a Reverse, such new suit bids are natural and are forcing to game (Example d).  A Reverse by Responder evidences, at least, opening count, and is forcing to game.


                      Opener            Responder     Responder’s Hand



              (d)       1C                 1H            AXXXX

                        1NT                2S            AK



      A 4th suit bid by Responder may be artificial or natural, but, unless at the 1-Level as in Example c above, is usually forcing to game (although some partnerships play 4th suit is forcing only for one round).    Such a bid is called “4th Suit Forcing”.   Until proven otherwise by any further rebid by Responder of that 4th suit, the bid is considered conventional, is alertable, is usually artificial in that it, most likely, says nothing about that suit in particular and forces the partnership to game. (Examples [e], [f], [g], and [h])



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                                                                                         South        North


   Examples: You (North) Hold:     XX          1D            1H     

                                   AXXX        2C           “2S”

                        (e)        AKQX




                                   AX          1S            2C

                        (f)        XXX         2D           “2H”





                                   XX          1S            2D

                        (g)        KX          2H           “3C”





                                   XX          1C            1D

                        (i)        KX          1H           “2S”


                                   QJX     (Notice in this example, North

                                          jumped to “2S” in order for the bid to be 4th suit forcing.   If his/her bid had, alternatively, been presented as 1S it would not have been artificial and forcing, rather an “Up the Ladder” natural bid, as in Example c, above.) 


     Under most circumstances, when 4th suit by Responder is employed, Responder seldom wishes to bid the 4th suit in a natural sense.   Had Responder truly held that 4th suit, he/she would have, most likely bid NT himself/herself.   The bid, therefore, generally evidences no stoppers in the 4th suit, and is asking Opener to bid NT if Opener has a stopper in that 4th suit.  It is absolutely forcing to game, and, therefore, Responder must never bid as such unless he/she holds opening count, or better.


     Absent a stopper in the 4th suit, thereby obviating any NT call, Opener’s next obligation is to either (1) support Responder’s suit with a 3-card support, having already denying a 4-card support by not supporting previously, or (2) re-bidding his/her own 5-card suit absent any of the above alternatives.


     If Responder rebids his/her 4th suit, however, Responder then evidences a natural second suit, as in the following example:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                South        North


   Example: You (North) Hold:      AKXXXX         1D            1S     

                                   AKJXX          2C           “2H”

                (i)                X              2NT           3H (Natural)



     A bid, by Responder, of the only as-yet-unbid (4th) suit at his/her second turn, above the 1-Level, is an artificial forcing bid, usually forcing to game.   It is called “4th Suit Forcing”.    It is considered an “asking bid” unless that suit is rebid by Responder in which case it is then considered as natural (as in Example d).

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